You’re apt to find an online packing list for every type of getaway, business trip, family vacation or around-the-world tour. And no doubt, there’s a ton of information and websites about healthy traveling and handy remedies for the traveler. Rather than packing a little of this or that for each and every malady, you may find relief for many common travel ailments in your kitchen canister – tea.
On a recent airline flight, I was bothered by an eye infection and I tried treating it with eye drops without much success. My sister-in-law had suggested using a cooled, used tea bag, placed over the eye. So on my return trip, after enjoying a cup of Earl Grey, I placed the warm bag over my eye for several minutes. “This is really working!” I remembered, thinking how soothing it was. And drinking a cup of the tea seemed to improve my general malaise.
This had me thinking: there must be lots of other ways tea can benefit travelers, so I consulted local tea expert and restaurateur, Glynis Legrand. Glynis, who owns Urban Tea Loft in downtown Chandler, has been a longtime advocate of the health benefits of tea. Glynis agrees: tea is perfect for traveling, and in addition to being a tasty beverage, can be used to energize, relax, relieve congestion, refresh from heat, calm stress, alleviate inflammation and soothe sore muscles.
As a pick-me-up, Glynis recommends Yerba Mate (pronounced mah-tay), derived from leaves of a Brazilian rainforest plant. It has energizing qualities that are different than the caffeine in black tea or coffee.
“With Yerba Mate, there’s no caffeine crash,” Glynis explained, “rather you step down gradually from the energy lift from Yerba Mate.”
The feeling of alertness would be perfect for business travelers trying to work on a long flight, but would still like to relax once they reached their destination, she added. Black tea, with caffeine is also beneficial. It’s the more palatable and popular of the two teas, and blends well with many different flavors.
According to Glynis, a variety of herbal teas will help accomplish relaxation after a long flight or road trip. Chamomile is the most popular. And to counter anxiety of travel, such as delayed flights, fear of flying or other travel stressors; a cup of calming, warm hibiscus tea will work.
Traveling can be hard on digestion too. Rooibos or other red teas will not only aid digestion but also act as an antioxidant. Rooibos has no caffeine and may be mixed with milk for children with stomach upset, said Glynis. Or it could sipped as an after-dinner drink. Mixing Rooibos tea with water in a small spray bottle is an ideal way to refresh the skin and hair.
With their antioxidant properties, warm green teas will fend off respiratory infections such as colds — extremely helpful for air travelers. And green teas will relieve accompanying congestion, too. They also provide relief for painful joints and muscles resulting from heavy suitcase lifting, stand in long lines or sitting for long periods on trains, planes and automobiles. Steeping green tea bags in warm water creates a soothing foot soak, added Glynis.
After your long flight, train or car ride, you’ve finally reached your destination and checked into your room. Again, consider tea’s advantages; nothing works better to relax and calm than a long soak in a lavender tea bath. Just the aroma itself slows the nervous system, promotes relaxation and a good night’s sleep — all very valuable to the frequent traveler.
Some teas pack better than others. For example, Matcha tea, a Japanese tea used in ceremonies travels well because it comes in a powder form, which can be added to water, or even stirred into lemonade.
“Matcha tea is very high in antioxidants,” said Glynis, “it has six times as much as other green teas.” Glynis advised green or black teas should not be packed in clear plastic bags, because sunlight and UV rays will degrade the tea. Instead, travelers can stow tea in a opaque, airtight container. For brewing tea ‘on the go,’ Glynis suggests a portable tea infuser like the Tuffy Steeper, a collapsible, packable strainer.
Readers: I would love to get your input about healthy travel. What items do you pack to keep healthy and stay comfortable while traveling?